SubVerse Aphrodesia

underneath the chatter… whatever turns you on

role models: melanie

Such a thrill to see the legendary Melanie perform at SteelStax in Bethlehem last night.

I had seen her once before at the Fine Arts Fiesta in Wilkes-Barre, of all places, with my mother, and probably my daughters. It was my mother’s album collection that first turned me on to Melanie when I was of that age we are when we are interested enough in music to start rummaging through our parents’ collections.

Melanie was a poetic and artistic influence in those formative years when I was seeking powerful women with whom I might identify. But she was also a key emotional support during those confusing years I first lived on my own at college. I had a lot of bad days back then – struggling with hormonal mood swings, low self-esteem, and undiagnosed mental issues including OCD (intrusive thoughts) and depression that lead to substance abuse. When I felt really bad, I’d close myself up in a room, blast Melanie records and sing at the top of my lungs. Like I had to expunge the emotions or I might explode. I recognized it when I saw Bridget Fonda listen to Nina Simone in the Americanized-version of La Femme Nikita, Point of No return. Melanie was to me what Nina Simone was to Fonda’s character.


It was more than kind of my mother to purchase tickets for her and I and my sister to experience Melanie live in the cozy Musikfest Cafe. My mother and I love each other deeply, but we often fail to connect.¬† Melanie’s music is a clear thread. We could agree on this thread even as I often hold my breath for fear of political landmine slippage. The fourth ticket went to an old friend of my mother’s who had introduced her to Melanie. A man known then by the telling nickname “Flower Power.” He’s the first person I remember talking to in person who was actually at Woodstock. And after we got to hear his wild story over dinner, we got to hear Melanie share hers between songs.

She was only 22 years old when she played at Woodstock. Filling in for the Incredible String Band who did not want to play in the rain for fear of electrocution, Melanie took the stage a nobody and seven songs later, left a celebrity. She told us about a spiritual experience she had after sitting alone in a small, empty tent backstage for hours before finally walking up the ramp to the stage. She left her body in front of all those people before opening her mouth to sing. I wanted to see it.

Why hadn’t I seen the footage of Melanie performing at Woodstock before, I wondered. Only fans have. Comments on the video below mention that she was cut from the movie. I didn’t shout out a request for “Tuning My Guitar” at the show last night, but it’s long been my favorite. I hadn’t realized she performed it at Woodstock 50 years ago. No wonder they fell in love with her.

This song has helped me tremendously over the years – to remember that it is okay to take time for myself. That I can and should take those moments of self-care, to make myself fit to be a person who can produce and thrive and on the best days, be a good role model myself.

Thank you, Melanie. Thank you, Mommy.


Reward psychology?

You might be an academic if …

Your reward for grading papers is getting to sink your brain a book you imagine quoting in a philosophical statement regarding your approach to making theater and the non-hierarchical playmaking company you founded inspired by decades of research into matriarchal aesthetics.

On writing for film

“Writing for film is like being a sperm donor. They absolutely need you. They can’t do it without you, but once you’ve done your thing (they never want to see you again.) And don’t come to the birthdays – that’s weird if you show up for the birthday. You won’t be invited along.

(Do it in a room on your own.) And when you’re finished leave. And as you leave they sort of look at you like what kind of sick bastard does that for a living.”

– Jez Butterworth in an interview with Simon Stephens for the Royal Court Playwright’s Podcast, S3 Ep. 1, Jan. 3, 2019.

(Words in parentheses spoken by Simon Stephens.)


The final residency

7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16. Service by Alicia Grega. Directed by Rusty Thelin.

All performances are in the Rauh Blackbox located on the 3rd floor of the New Pittsburgh Playhouse @ Point Park University. Enter at 414 Wood Street and go through the University Center to the theatre. All performances are free of charge.

#pointparkuniversity #mfa #thesis #pittsburgh #pittsburghplayhouse #serviceTV #pilot

all you want (holiday poem 2019)

Merry Christmas, Friends!

The first line is a nod to an untitled Rachel McKibbens poem I haven’t been able to get out of my head since I heard it years ago. The rest is me. -ag

holi18cardA flat

love vs. attachment

from The Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski (by way of Norman Fischer and Everday Zen)

If love is bountiful and endless, why then do we get caught up in scarcity, feeling that we must hold on to our beloved so tightly? In part, it is because we confuse love and attachment.

Attachment likes to impersonate love. It says, “I will love you if you give me what I need.

Love is focused on generosity: attachment is obsessed with getting needs met.

Love is an expression of our most essential nature: attachment is an expression of the  personality.

Love engenders faithfulness, aligning with our values, moving with purpose.
Attachment clings in fear and grasps tightly to a particular end result.

Love is selfless and encourages freedom: attachment is self-centered and engenders possessiveness.

Attachment leaves scars. Love inclines us to gratefulness.

Rachel Kushner’s ‘common women’

“Did you ever notice that women can seem ‘common,’ while men never do. You won’t ever hear anyone describe a man’s appearance as ‘common.’ The Common Man means the average man. The typical man. A decent hard-working person of modest dreams and resources. A common woman is a woman who looks cheap. A woman who looks cheap doesn’t have to be respected. And so she has a certain value. A certain cheap value.”

— Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room

Still in Chapter one of the audiobook, read by the author, but so far I am loving this book. I had to stop and share this passage. It’s one of those “I can’t believe I never thought about that before” moments that now I can’t stop thinking about. -ag

the inside of my skin hurts

The Grace of Mary Traverse, Timberlake WertenbakerThere are so many marvelous lines and stunning passages in this script, I hesitate to pull out one bit to represent. Put this on your reading list. Better yet, stage the thing. Especially recommended for feminists and women’s studies scholars.

On the last day of class

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